According to recent GlobalData research, the top three European countries most interested in buying beauty products with natural claims are Italy, Russia and Turkey. Lagging behind, and perhaps surprisingly, are the Netherlands, the UK and Germany; each has a long history of promoting natural-based formulations in cosmetics and toiletries. However, GlobalData research affirms that consumers living in these three countries are most likely to say they are interested in, but not actively buying, natural beauty and grooming products.
“Raising awareness of the benefits of natural as well as adding natural attributes across portfolios could assist in encouraging uptake in these high potential markets,” maintains Xinyi Wu, associate analyst, GlobalData. Perhaps more revealing is the fact that nearly half of Europeans say they would be more likely to choose a brand if it had natural ingredients and this can potentially give brands the competitive edge for engagement. Wu suggests that considering “natural” as a strategy for new product development will be important for growth.
Natural related beauty claims are increasing across an array of beauty categories. Mintel researchers have reported an uptick within the shampoo, conditioner, hair styling and hair treatment categories. Meanwhile, the vegan or no animal ingredient claim has increased 9% in conditioners and 7% in shampoos and hair treatments in recent Mintel surveys.
David Tyrell, global skin care analyst, Mintel, explains the trend: “Natural has evolved from simply a use of natural ingredients to a healthier living lifestyle exemplified by the growing prominence of vegan claims across categories over the last few years. The increase in the no animal ingredient claim correlates with the growth in the vegan cosmetics market.”
Although most Europeans favor purchasing conventional over natural/organic beauty products, the interest shown by younger consumers is driving growth of natural, organic and vegan products. In the first half of 2018, Mintel recorded a strong bias among younger UK consumers who purchase natural and organic shampoos, conditioners, facial skin care, mascara, lipstick and hand, body and foot care products.
Mascara stands out as a category with a sizeable increase in purchases by the 25-34-year-old age group. Meanwhile, in the major European markets, shampoos and conditioners are most popular among 16-24 year olds, as 33% of French consumers, 25% of Germans, 38% of Italians and 34% of Spanish consumers bought natural and organic products during the past six months. Mintel records a similar purchase pull from younger consumers in the natural and organic facial skin care category.
Ethical & Sustainable
Younger Europeans are driving interest in beauty brands that make a point of stating their ethical and sustainability values, according to Camilla Marcus-Dew, head of commercial, Clarity-The Soap Co.
She refers to a 2018 Unilever study of 20,000 people in five countries showing that a third of consumers are choosing brands they believe are doing social or environmental good.
“That figure is only set to grow,” she insists. “Consumers are asking about the inclusion of harmful chemicals from parabens to SLS, about the safety of ingredients after use when it comes to aquatic life and the eco-system, about the testing of ingredients on animals, about the biodegradability and recycling potential of packaging and plastic waste. The list is endless.”
Marcus-Dew ensures that Clarity -The Soap Co. does not compromise;. The firm brings brands to market that have strong eco credentials and carry The Planet Mark for the company’s efforts around sustainability.
As consumers become increasingly vocal about cleaning up and caring for the oceans, Tyrell has highlighted Henkel in its efforts to clean plastics from the oceans. The company is an active member of the New Plastic Initiative Economy to reduce plastic waste entering the oceans by supporting research to design as well as recycle packaging materials.
In beauty, one of the biggest changes has come about in the banning of plastic microbeads by the UK government. The alternatives, including sugar, clay and oats, are being rolled out as brands look at ways to differentiate themselves from rivals. Personal care companies such as Lush, The Body Shop and Tata Harper are examples of brands that are leaders in introducing alternatives to microbeads in the natural and organic sector.
Meanwhile, L’Oréal Paris Smooth Sugars leverages the natural and “clean” trend with its sugar scrubs, which are made from 100% naturally-derived exfoliants.
A Growing List
Here’s a rundown of a few of the beauty brands that effectively convey a natural, ethical and/or sustainable positioning:
- French brand Qädyp was inspired by the founder’s origins growing flax in Northern France; its mission is to provide highly effective natural products with minimal impact on the environment. The brand’s core ingredient, flax oil, is extremely high in omega 3 and all oils used in the formulation carry the Cosmos organic and Demeter2 labels.
- Another French brand, Pulpe de Vie, has released a new “[Im]perfections” line which includes a 2-in-1 clementine cleansing micellar jelly (with 99% natural ingredients), a clementine blurring moisturizer and #Nofilter cucumber face serum with prebiotic.
- Native, available in France, Germany and the UK, is a deodorant stick brand that is aluminum- and paraben-free and made with natural ingredients that consumers can pronounce, such as arrowroot powder, probiotics and baking soda.
- The UK-based men’s grooming and personal care brand called Bulldog has embraced ways to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and be an active environmental steward.
“The natural, cruelty-free brand has been pushing aggressively into sustainable packaging solutions,” observed Tyrell of Mintel. “It has adopted use of green polyethylene that is derived from renewable sugarcane. The brand just launched a bamboo razor, building on a sustainability mission with a strong commitment to reduce plastic waste.”
It is becoming increasingly important for natural and organic brands to build consumer trust by defining values and standing by them. It is bound to make for interesting times in the natural and organic beauty space.
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Imogen Matthews is a respected consultant, journalist and researcher focusing on trends in the beauty industry. She regularly contributes to many of the world’s foremost beauty trade titles. Every year in April, she publishes The Premium Market Report, focusing on trends in the UK premium beauty markets.